Falling close to the tree


There are pros and cons to being the youngest child in a large family. The biggest advantage is that by the time you come along, your parents have basically had enough of the discipline thing. My oldest brother is fond of saying that we were raised by two different sets of parents, and based on stories of the strict rules John had to follow, I’d have to agree. Princess Jeannie? Oh yeah!

The negative is that by the time you reach your forties, your parents are elderly and you don’t have them around as long in your life as you’d wish. I would love to have Mom and Dad not only part of my life but also part of my sons’ lives, adding a connection to my family that they don’t have.

I was thinking of this recently when doing the final edit of the PGB cookbook – in the introduction I mention that Mom died in 2009 and Dad in 2011, and neither of them knew about Prairie Girl Bakery.

But Mom and Dad were entrepreneurs all during my childhood (one of their businesses, Saskatoon Auction Mart, opened the year I was born) and I realize that much of what I saw them do, I unconsciously (intuitively?) do in my own business.

That was the time of a single land line per household – in fact we were lucky to have our own household phone because many of our neighbours had a “party line” meaning that they shared the line with more than one family (unbelievable to think about that now, in this time of individual phones for each of us).

Anyway, none of us kids were allowed to use the phone very often in case one of Dad’s big customers called. Although I don’t recall my parents using  the phrase, the customer is always right, I grew up in an environment where that was implicit.

Andrew and I like to try new restaurants. One thing that really turns us off is a place that is “taken with themselves” (an Andrewism) i.e. they have an aura suggesting they think their offering of local/organic/seasonal/fill-in-the-blank food is better than the customer. Such a mistake!!

I try really hard (don’t always succeed) in sharing with my team the view that the customer keeps the lights on and even though the customer may “not” always be  right, he or she must always feel that our #1 priority is getting it right with them.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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